The Periodic Table Summary

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English – The Periodic Table Online Summary
The Periodic Table' gives an insight into the importance of chemistry in Levi's life. On a very basic level it probably saved him at Auschwitz, where his professional experience meant he was selected for work in one of the IG Farben synthetic rubber factories attatched to the concentration camp ('Cerium') - far preferable to the back-breaking physical labour he would otherwise have had to perform. Chemistry also provided Levi with a living before and after the war.
But Levi looked for more than simply 'the tools to earn his living and have a secure life.' In 'Hydrogen' Levi expresses what chemistry meant to him as a school boy: 'An indefinite cloud of future potentialities'...from which 'cloud I expected my law, the principle of order in me, around me and in the world.' In 'Iron', as a chemistry degree student and with the war looming with all the terrible consequences that it would have for him, Levi explains to his friend Sandro how his view of chemistry has developed:
Sandro was surprised when I tried to explain to him some of the ideas that at the time I was confusedly cultivating. That the nobility of man, acquired in a hundred centuries of trial and error, lay in making himself the conquerer of matter, and that I had enrolled in chemistry because I wanted to remain faithful to this nobility. That conquering matter is to understand it, and understanding matter is necessary to understanding the universe and ourselves: and that therefore Mendeleev's Periodic Table, which just during those weeks we were laboriously learning to unravel, was poetry, loftier and more solemn than all the poetry we had swallowed down in liceo; and come to think of it, it even rhymed! That if one looked for the bridge, the missing link, between the world of words and the world of things, one did not have to look far: It was there,…...

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